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From time to time, a question I posted on some Stack Exchange website didn't get any useful answer or got too many comments that I don't find interesting, which led me to post it another Q&A platform (e.g. Quora, mailing list, etc.). Sometimes, I received a useful answer there.

What shall I do regarding my Stack Exchange question in that situation:

  • edit the question to add a pointer to the external resource that contains the answer
  • add a comment pointing to the external resource that contains the answer
  • add the link to the external resource as an answer
  • add the link to the external resource + the useful content as an answer, if copyright/license permits
  • delete the Stack Exchange question
  • nothing

?

Meta Stack Exchange recommends to add the link to the external resource + the useful content as an answer. However, when I do so, moderator Bryan Krause removed my answer, contrary to Meta Stack Exchange's guidance.

What shall I do?

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The Stack Exchange Help is clear:

Do not copy the complete text of external sources; instead, use their words and ideas to support your own.

The "instead" part here is very important. Use their words and ideas to support your own. If your answer is completely composed of a quote plus a reference, it is not in support of your own words or ideas, it's just a copy.

Collections of cited, brief quotes from other sources with explanatory text by the author of the post are often the best format for answers here at Biology.SE because they follow this basic guidance. If you get an answer elsewhere, especially if it refers to additional authoritative sources, feel free to compose your own answer based on this content, citing the other answer and any primary resources you use.

If this answer you write uses a supporting direct quote from the referenced material, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as it's supporting.

Also, importantly, references to "some other answer on the Internet" are not themselves authoritative. The answer you linked may be correct, but for anything beyond basic textbook knowledge we typically ask for better references. We should not let this expectation be bypassed when someone wrote an answer on another Q&A site. We're not in the business of verifying identities, so for all we know the other writer is a crank or the author quoting themself.

There are several sites (and users of sites) out there that rip and reproduce content from other sources. While this behavior is allowed by the license here as long as it follows the attribution requirements, let's keep Biology Stack Exchange better quality than these sites.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Stack Exchange Help didn't handle the case where I posted the question somewhere else and got an answer. This is why Meta Stack Exchange made an exception for it. Also, references are not required, and there's no point in paraphrasing for the sake of it. $\endgroup$ Jan 3 at 0:15

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